Before I start to talk about why you should stop watching YouTube, I want to make something clear: It’s not about all the content you can find there. I will mostly refer to “unnecessary” videos, like cat-videos, reaction-videos, car-crash-videos, fail-videos and so on. I think you know which kind of videos I talk about.
1. It’s a waste of time
Let’s be honest: We all spend much more time on YouTube than we intended to. Initially, we just wanted to check on how to cook a special meal, how to repair a car-part or how to lose weight. At first, we had good intentions. But then you see on the side suggested videos: “Top 10 richest Youtubers”, “Watch what happens if I open the box”, “Fail-compilation 2018”. Of course, they peak our interest. Not many admit it, but people watch those videos. But people don’t just watch one or two. They continue to watch video after video until they realize it’s late and they didn’t even start to cook the meal they came for on YouTube.
YouTube is a waste of time. We all know that and it’s true unless you can control your behavior, which most people don´t. We hop on the video-platform for one video and end up watching ten, twenty or even more. I was in that position too, until I realized how bad it affected my time management.
“But I only watch useful content”, I hear you saying. But I’m sure you don´t. Even if you watched an educational documentary, a DIY-video, a motivational video or a review, you will end up in the “dark zone” of YouTube, which means useless content. Let’s say you want to buy a notebook in the next few days and can’t really decide which one to buy. You obviously go on YouTube to watch a review, because it doesn’t take that much time to watch a video that to read an article, right? Well, then you say: “Ok, this video suggests to buy this notebook, but I’m curious what other people say.” So you click on another video, and another video and so on until you watched five to ten reviews. Somewhere on this journey of comparing reviews and deciding which to believe, you will get a video suggested: “YOU WON´T BELIEVE WHAT I FOUND IN MY SISTERS BEDROOM – SHOCKING!!!” – and now you are hooked! You obviously will have some kind of an idea that it’s all clickbait, but you know what, you want to know what he found in his sisters’ bedroom, especially because you expect something specific right? Well, then you watch 20min. of useless content just to find out that his sister forgot to bring her pen to school.
At this point, I hope you already realized the danger of YouTube. You watch stuff that’s not very interesting, but it still did get your attention. After wasting 20min. of your valuable time, you might think: “Well, what a waste of time” and turn of the computer or finally buy the notebook you wanted. OR, you get suggested another video, and another one and another one. You keep watching content you didn’t come for.
My suggestion: Be conscious about what you want to watch. Say to yourself: “I will watch this one or these two or three videos, until I get the information I came for, and then leave.” A good tip to actually do so is to watch the videos in full screen to not see the suggested videos. That way you won’t get hooked so easily.
2. Mindlessly watching videos kills your motivation
This point is an extension of the first one: You will lose your motivation to do the work you wanted to do when watching YouTube videos. Why is that? Well, it’s an easy excuse and a very easy way to fill boring moments. You want to do your homework? But you just came home from school and can’t properly concentrate? Well, then it’s no harm to watch some videos, right? Wrong! You will lose complete motivation to do your homework after an hour of mindlessly watching video after video, just to realize that it’s late. To now get off of YouTube and start doing productive work takes a lot of willpower. There will be no motivation to do it.
The same goes for any other thing you “intended” to do. You wanted to go running, but just to be sure you watch a video on how to properly run. But it doesn’t end with one video. You get into the spiral and never end up actually running!
I don’t have to explain this point any further because we all experienced it. And if you didn’t, congratulations – You are one of the productive few. My tip on how to stay motivated is to do the work you have to do as early as possible in the day and just if you have finished it all, you are allowed to watch tutorials, explain videos etc. The later the day, the less willpower you will have. Stay motivated and keep momentum until the end of the day to get everything done, and then you have the “time” to watch some videos – But please don’t keep watching until late at night and sacrifice quality sleep, which is another point.
3. You lose the quality of sleep
If you do as I suggested, you might end up in another trap: Watching until late at night. This is a very common problem because it’s hard not to watch how two cars crash at 200km/h, right? There is always the question inside of you: Should I watch this video or should I go to sleep? Most often you decide to watch that video. After that, you repeat the same question until it’s so late that either your smartphone fell on your face or your battery died.
Looking at a screen right before going to bed reduces your sleep quality. Because of the blue light in the screen, your eyes believe it’s daytime, which makes it very hard for your body to produce melatonin, the essential sleeping-hormone to make you sleepy.
I set a rule for myself: Now screen one hour before sleep. That way I ensure that my body is able to produce enough melatonin to make me fall asleep quickly. It also helps to darken your room half an hour or an hour before going to sleep, since your brain will think it’s dark and time for bed.
And if you can’t fall asleep anyways, please don´t look at your phone – it won’t make it better, trust me.
4. You lose control
While reading the first three points, you should have already realized one thing: YouTube takes control over you, even though it’s not the intention of the video platform. YouTube is a great place for education, quick and easy to understand information or a good place to see things from a different perspective. I use YouTube to get an overview on a topic I’m interested in. As I prepared a presentation on a specific topic, I first watched three YouTube videos giving me some general information (20/ 80 rule). Then I got deeper into it and filled my questions with information from other sources like professional websites or books. That way I truly understand what the article or book is talking about while learning and connecting very quickly how all the points connect.
But often times I see people doing something completely different. They go on YouTube not to use it to educate themselves, but to entertain themselves. What makes you lose control, you ask? Let’s compare YouTube to the TV. On YouTube, you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want? Want to see the Oscars at 12 AM sitting in the waiting room? – No problem. Watching TV, you can’t do it. You are limited in time (You can only watch certain things at certain hours), space (you can´t transport your TV everywhere you go), and content (You can´t decide which content will be shown on TV). That’s what makes YouTube so attractive, especially for young people with smartphones and internet everywhere.
Since you are not limited in any way, you will actually use YouTube very often. You will subscribe to a dozen Youtubers and as soon as you have some free time, you start watching one video after another. Please don´t be offended by me, because I obviously don’t talk about you, but the “others” – It’s never you, right?
How to gain back control?
I use this list to ensure I only watch, what I really want. When I get videos suggested I really want to watch (remember the sister video from above?) and consciously write it down on that list. On Sunday I give myself some “lazy time” to watch those videos. Now believe me – typing in those video titles, I already don’t want to watch them, so I don´t. I often end up just watching ⅓ of the videos I have written down this way. It also will make you much more sensible for the “useless” kind of videos, because you don’t really want to watch those on Sunday. Please download the file and try it out, it could really help you gain control over your watching-behavior.
5. What about real life?
The really sad part about this YouTube-addiction (yes, it’s an addiction) is the fact that you lose “life-time”. For me “life-time” is the time when I´m out in nature, doing my workout, meeting friends or having a dinner with my family. Will you ever look back at your life thinking: “Damn, I really wanted to know what he found in his sisters’ bedroom.” I hope your answer is “NO”. Spend your time in real life. Do something you want to look back on. This doesn’t mean you shouldn´t stop watching YouTube since it can provide you with some good information and input, but at least get conscious of your use of time. I guarantee you that you won’t regret not having watched too many videos.
If you have other opinions or share my opinion, please let me know. As always I would be glad for any language or grammar correction since I’m still learning how to properly write and speak English. Thank you!